Habs urge fans to shun fake jerseys

The Montreal Canadiens have launched an anti-counterfeit campaign aimed at deterring fans from buying cheap knock-offs.
The Montreal Canadiens are offering fans discounts on licensed jerseys if they turn in their counterfeit ones. (CBC)

Montreal has become a hotbed of knock-off sports jerseys and the Montreal Canadiens are hoping fans won’t stand for it.

"Since the 2008-2009 season, seizures of counterfeit NHL jerseys have quadrupled and they show no signs of slowing down," said NHL Vice-President Tom Prochnow, adding Montreal has become an epicenter of the illegal jersey trade. 

"You may think, ‘so what?’ but counterfeiting is a crime."

The team has banded with the league and Reebok to educate fans about what Prochnow called the "dangers" of fraudulent merchandise.

As part of the Let’s Retire These Jerseys campaign, the Canadiens posted a how-to guide on their website to help consumers find the fakes.

According to the site, buying the phoney merchandise, "may support unlawful labour conditions and organized crime."

They’re also asking fans to turn in their counterfeit jerseys in exchange for a discount on a licensed one.

"When you see a Montreal Canadiens logo, it represents pride and honour in being one of the best in the game that we love," Prochnow told a press conference in Montreal Thursday.

"When our fans wear a Canadiens jersey, we want them to wear the best with the very same pride and honour."

A genuine NHL jersey can run anywhere between $100 and $300. A counterfeit costs a fraction of that.

NHL Vice-President Tom Prochnow said the seizure of fake jerseys has quadrupled in three years. (CBC)
The league says buying licensed gear ensures jobs at Reebok's plant in St-Hyacinthe, Que. where jerseys are made. Reebok employs 600 people in Quebec.

Former Hab Guy Carbonneau, who is part of the campaign, said it’s not just about buying real NHL merchandise, but also not being duped by high-priced fakes.

Some of the phony jerseys can cost just as much as the real ones, he said.

"If they want to buy it, that's their own prerogative, but at least they have to be warned that there are fake ones," he said.  

Tuffy Ballas, who owns a sports merchandise store in Montreal, said consumers have to be careful when buying jerseys since some of the fauxs even claim to be "official merchandise" on the label.

He said customers should watch out for cheap materials, faded colours and prices that seem too good to be true.